Erica Spinoni
Erica Spinoni (Senior Research Analyst, European Customer Insights & Analysis)

End Users Tell IDC About the Trends

Changes are occurring in the work environment that can no longer be ignored or dismissed with superficial comments like, “This is how things are evolving, so you need to accept them.”

In this day and age, the full employee experience package must be nurtured. Sharp attention must be paid to the demands of younger employees entering the work environment.

The statements above are some of the thought-provoking perspectives that technology end users voiced to IDC during deep-dive discussions at IDC’s Future of Work and AI Summit in London and our Future of Work Summit in Milan. During these events, both of which occurred in March, IDC held free-ranging conversations with more than 100 Italy- and U.K.-based IT and HR experts who work in industries including education, manufacturing, finance, and healthcare.

The talks revealed 8 Future of Work trends that are likely to impact workspaces in 2024 and beyond.

  1. Using Tech to Boost Productivity and User Experience in Hybrid Workspaces: The experts IDC spoke to supported greater technology adoption, including of intuitive technologies, to unlock productivity improvements and help employees close digital skills gaps. They emphasized the need for workplace cultural change, including clear communication to employees on the benefits of new technologies. The experts noted that hybrid working models will require organizations to redesign office spaces to enable digital parity between remote and onsite workers.
  2. Assessing AI’s Impact on the Workforce: The experts were generally of the view that AI and automation will make a positive impact on processes, employee productivity, and innovation. Organizations should make upskilling a priority, as new skills will be required to advance these technologies. Attention must also be paid to the EU’s new Artificial Intelligence Act, which demands greater transparency and traceability of AI initiatives, as well as contains requirements around removing bias that could be fed into large language models (LLMs).
  1. Ensuring Cybersecurity in Flexible Work Environments: Cybersecurity remains critical, especially for organizations that employ remote workers and/or employees who split time between working at the office and at home. IDC’s discussions pointed to the need to deploy multiple layers of safeguards, such as cryptography and virtual desktops, to safeguard data and assets connected to the organization’s networks. Regardless of their location (i.e., home or office), workers must be continually trained on cybersecurity and on how to protect IT and OT data in converged environments.
  1. Leveraging Data, Automation, and Innovation to Build Intelligent HR: When applications are being created, employees in different functions may not have the same understanding of the processes that need to be designed. A pivotal initial step to ensure user adoption is to make certain that all involved share the same understanding of goals and processes. The IT function, for example, should not spend time developing solutions that will not ultimately serve user needs efficiently and effectively. A complicating factor is that many organizations are still stuck with legacy solutions that hinder technological advancement. Governance is another challenge. Many organizations are struggling to develop and implement processes that guarantee clean and ready data for use in AI and GenAI applications.
  1. Fine-Tuning Hybrid and Flexible Work Models: Hybrid and flexible models require a high level of employer trust in workers’ ability to be productive if not in the office. Some of the experts IDC spoke to indicated that many in Italian senior management remain skeptical about the benefits of work-from-home policies and continue to demand that their workforces return to the office. On the workforce side, there is growing demand for objectives and detailed KPIs. In general, the experts regard hybrid and flexible working models to be at least as productive as office-only models — in some cases more so. Flexible working models can be critical to help ensure employee engagement, especially for those who are caregivers, a parent, or members of the younger generation.
  1. Boosting Employee Engagement and Retention: Companies can utilize multiple levers to improve employee engagement and retention. These include fostering in-office/in-person connections, team building, and providing clear and continuous feedback to employees from the top to the bottom of the organization. The role of technologies in such initiatives is pivotal. Employees, for example, are usually happier and more engaged if they are satisfied with the technologies used in their workplace. The experts at our meetings also told us that the expectations of the incoming generation of workers are driving organizations to reshuffle their employee engagement priorities and requirements.
  1. Connecting the Future of Work and Sustainability: Organizations in the U.K., Ireland, and Italy are increasingly responsive to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) priorities. Much effort and resources are being invested in the “E” component as companies act to shrink their carbon footprints, for example, by shifting to more carbon-neutral cloud solutions. Initiatives connected to the “S” component are raising organizational awareness of issues like gender parity, inclusion, digital accessibility, and community commitment. “G” components focus on the R&D and implementation of technologies to collect and analyze reporting data. To meet their ESG commitments efficiently, companies are seeking to onboard sustainability experts across all organizational levels.
  1. Analyzing How Skills and Talent Are Evolving: Organizations continue to struggle to find employees with the skills to help the company stay abreast of new technology and innovations. On one hand, we see AI boosting productivity and making some tasks and jobs obsolete. On the other, there is rising demand for humans with the “hard” technical skills to effectively manage AI and connect AI with humans. Demand is also rising for humans who possess the “soft” skills to manage the creativity and needs of human employees. Employees who can effectively fulfill these roles will be highly valued and rewarded.


Many of the above points are succinctly summarized in IDC’s Human-First Future of Work Framework, which is based on five pillars that are essential for any business seeking to build a sustainable, human-first work environment.

Source: IDC, 2024

Interested in a deeper understanding of the issues discussed here? Contact IDC’s Future of Work Team or connect with us on LinkedIn for live updates from the EMEA Xchange Summit in Malaga on April 15–16, 2024.

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